Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has said popular Yoruba rights activist, Sunday Adeyemo, well known as Sunday Igboho, had no right to issue a vacation notice to Fulani herders in the Ibarapa Local Government Area of Oyo State.
Igboho, who is the Akoni Oodua of Yoruba land, had asked herdsmen accused of perpetrating crimes ranging from kidnappings, killings, rape to invasion of farmlands with their cattle to leave within seven days.
At the expiration of the ultimatum last week, he and his followers had stormed the Fulani settlement in Igangan to eject Seriki Fulani, Salihu Abdukadir, and the herders.
But Falana advised the affected herders to seek redress in court, saying, “Anybody who is affected by such illegal quit notices would have to go to court to stop whoever is issuing the notices. That is the law but don’t let us resort to violence; it is unnecessary.”
The senior advocate, who spoke on a BBC programme on Wednesday, argued that some of the evicted herders had lived in Ibarapaland for many years and have the constitutional rights to do so.
Falana said, “With profound respect under our laws, even a squatter cannot be ejected and that is why daily, tenants are given quit notices by landlords or owners of properties.
“So, a private citizen cannot wake up and say anybody should leave the community, you must embrace the rule of law. Nobody can do that, not even the government because section 43 of the constitution says every citizen shall have the right to own and acquire properties in any parts of the country.
“The campaign of the human rights community is that if you are born in a place, or you have lived for not less than ten years in any part of the country, you should be considered an indigene and be entitled to all the rights and privileges of the so-called indigenes of the state. So, for me, there is no way I can embrace anyone who has given quit notice to any group of people.”
Falana warned against generalisation, saying criminal elements must be arrested and prosecuted without an entire ethnic group being labelled as a criminal.
“We must stop the idea of criminal profiling. If anybody has committed an offence or a group of people has committed an offence, we must fish them out and have them tried under the law but you can’t wake up and say all Yoruba people, all Hausa people are criminals, all Igbo people are criminals. No, it is a fallacy of generalisation,” he noted.